Undeniable struggles within you. Clear obstacles in front of you. Satan against you and temptation around you. This is the reality of the saints of God still living upon earth. Nobody is immune and none of us are exempted as we attest to the fact that we are residents of a realm to which we are unsuited. This journey of life will one day give way to the fullness of our redemption. Until then, what are we to think of this ceaseless battle? The answer is that we spend our days winning. The battles guarantee us something that we cannot have apart from them. Paul wrote,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35,37
Seeking to keep it simple today, I am committed to reminding us all that we were born the second time for adversity. Troubles, distress, mistreatment, deprivation, danger and death must appear in our biography on some level. So much of our modern world is given to insulate us from these very things but God ordains that we must experience a taste of each of these things that Paul listed before exiting earth. The Apostle, at the time of writing Romans, had experienced all of these but the final one. That last remaining facet, death, was not too distant on the horizon for him. Paul was not afraid to die because he did so daily in a very important way. He also told the Christians at Rome that God’s relentless love for them was stronger than all of these forces against them. He says, quite specifically, that we are exceedingly triumphant in all of the troubles he listed. Interestingly, Paul says that it is IN these things that we are more than conquerors. IN our troubles we are winners. IN our distresses and mistreatment we are the victors. IN deprivation and danger and death we are more than conquerors. It would be one thing for God’s word to tell us we become winners through these things but the clarity is given that these are the very things that make us winners – more than winners, Scripture says. How is this so?
In battle it is clearly a sign of triumph when the soldier slays his enemy. He can then be said to be the conqueror. Yet if he is somehow able to take his enemy and bring him to defeat and submission and then make that enemy fight for him, he can herein be said to be more than a conqueror. In this scenario, the thing that once opposed the soldier now fights for him. The hyper-triumphant Christian is like this! In tribulation we are more than conquerors because we own the trouble and make it work for our good. The same is said for circumstantial distress, painful persecution and dangers in life. Even death is seen to serve us because it pushes across the threshold into the fullness of our inheritance. We experience all the things coming against us in a manner that makes them our servant, not our master.
He has made you a winner and is making you more than a winner in the very things that threaten to undo you.
Paul clearly removes the possibility of pride from us when he declares that this is only (and always) accomplished through Christ…through Him who loved us. The end of this teaching is that the very things that we assume will bring us ruin are ordained of God to be the means of our deepest victories. This occurs when the intense forces of life purge us from self-reliance, spiritual confusion, fleshly responses and ignorance about the battle. Christ’s love for us is made increasingly more clear and we become confident in Him as we experience the ongoing power to outlast and overcome anything that opposes us. This is not stoic, grit-your-teeth endurance but, instead, a partnership in life wherein Christ makes us winners. I suggest that without these troubling facets of our pilgrimage that we are not the overcomers God has redeemed us to be.
Satan thought he was winning at Calvary when he was most definitely losing. The work he was doing which tasted of victory was seen to be his colossal defeat three days after the fact. Likewise, Christians think they are losing during difficulties when we are most definitely winning. The analysis is never accurate in the moment of the battle so we draw our conclusions prematurely. Deepening faith tempers us to wait it out in a trust that reveals the triumph. So today, fellow winners, I commit us to the care of God and refuse to ask for our ease. I ask instead for our joyful faith that teaches us what it is like to be more than conquerors.
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